Understanding your Medicare coverage will help you make the most of your benefits. The Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) is an important document you should review every fall. Ignoring this piece of information could result in adverse changes to your coverage. Today, we will discuss what an ANOC is, what you need to look for, and how to change your Medicare plan.
What Is an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC)?
An Annual Notice of Change, often called an ANOC, is a document that Medicare Advantage (Part C) and Medicare Part D plans send their beneficiaries annually. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) mandates that insurance carriers must send an ANOC to their members by September 30.
The ANOC outlines all changes in the plan’s coverage, costs, and network that will take effect in the upcoming year. This could mean a change in premium, deductible, copays, covered benefits, or changes to the network of providers and pharmacies.
Reading the Annual Notice of Change will help you prepare for these changes and decide if your current plan is still right for you. If you think the changes will have a negative impact on your coverage, you’ll be able to shop for a new Medicare plan during the Annual Election Period.
What to Do with Your Annual Notice of Change
Now that you know more about the ANOC, let’s go through a more detailed description of what you should do once you receive it. The three areas to pay close attention to are coverage, cost, and service area. Since you probably don’t have your current plan’s covered memorized, it may help to have your plan’s summary of benefits available.
Review Your Coverage: Are there any changes to the services or treatments covered by your plan? Think about the services you received over the last year. Do you have anything scheduled for the upcoming year? If so, make sure those treatments are included. In addition, if you are taking any prescriptions, check the plan’s drug formulary. It’s not uncommon for medications to be added or removed from a drug formulary, so make sure the ones you take are still listed.
Check Changes in Cost: Take note of any changes in the plan’s premium, deductible, copays, and out-of-pocket maximum. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage, don’t forget to check for changes to the deductible and copays of your prescriptions as well.
Find Your Providers: Medicare Advantage and Part D plans operate on provider networks. Those networks can also change each year. Check the service area to make sure your preferred providers and pharmacies are still contracted with your plan.
Change Your Medicare Plan During the Annual Election Period
So, what happens if you don’t like the changes outlined in your Annual Notice of Change? The good news is that you can change your Medicare plan during the Annual Election Period (AEP).
AEP begins on October 15 and ends on December 7. You can change your Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription drug plan during this time. You can make any of the following changes:
- Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage (or vice versa)
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
- Switch from one Medicare Part D plan to another
- Join or drop a Medicare Part D plan
Even if you are happy with your current plan and are satisfied with the changes for the following year, it’s never a bad idea to look at other plans. Insurance companies compete with one another to earn your business, so there may be another plan on the market that is an even better fit.
Of course, you don’t have to review all of this information alone. Work with a Medicare advisor at Carolina Senior Benefits to make AEP easy. We can quickly review your plan’s benefits and compare them to other options. If you decide to change your Medicare plan, we’ll submit all the paperwork so you can sit back and enjoy the holidays.
Call Carolina Senior Benefits for expert guidance on your Medicare journey.